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Government confirms new roles for ARB

Posted: 8th June 2021

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has today warmly welcomed the Government’s confirmation of changes it intends to make to the Architects Act. Amongst the changes is a new power for ARB to monitor the way architects manage their Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and a role in recognising qualifications from other countries.

As the statutory regulator, ARB protects the public by requiring everyone admitted to the Architects Register to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours necessary for safe, effective practice. The Architects Act 1997 is the legislation under which ARB regulates architects in the UK. In 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted on changes to that legislation. MHCLG has now published the Government’s response to that consultation.

The proposed Building Safety Bill will introduce powers for ARB to monitor CPD, providing an opportunity to align architects with other professions by looking at competence beyond the initial point of registration. ARB will use these powers to encourage architects to maintain and develop their competence to practise. The details of the monitoring scheme are being developed through ARB’s Competence Review.

The Government has also confirmed that ARB will be able to recognise certain qualifications from other countries so that architects with those qualifications can join the UK Register, which will help the UK remain an attractive destination for international architects. The Professional Qualifications Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 12 May 2021, provides the power to give ARB the ability to pursue opportunities for UK architects to work internationally; this is likely to take the form of reciprocal arrangements with counterpart regulators in other countries.

Housing Minister Chris Pincher MP said: “Following an overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation from the architecture profession, we are delighted to be moving forward with firm proposals that will make a real difference to the lives of architects around the world.

“This fundamental realignment of the profession will reassert the United Kingdom’s reputation as a global leader in architecture, ensuring we continue to attract the best architects from around the world to build back better on the homes and infrastructure in this country.”

Minister for Investment Lord Gerry Grimstone said: “Britain has a global reputation for professionalism and excellence in services like architecture, and this important change will ensure that UK architecture qualifications remain the gold standard around the world.

“Our new laws will enable world-class architects to continue working in the UK and can make it possible for the Architects Registration Board to open up opportunities for British architects working with our global partners.”

Alan Kershaw, Chair of the Architects Registration Board, said: “Today the Government has confirmed its intention to create new powers for ARB which we will use to introduce a scheme to monitor the Continuing Professional Development of architects. This is an opportunity to recognise formally the considerable amount of developmental activity that most architects already do. We will use our regulatory powers to promote consistency across the profession.

“We are aiming to design a scheme that is proportionate, genuinely helpful to the profession, and tailored by architects to meet their own individual development requirements. It’s vital that we develop our approach in collaboration with the profession: an effective monitoring scheme is crucial in maintaining public confidence, and to be successful it has to work for architects.

“ARB’s new role in recognising international qualifications is another positive step. We are going to ensure all individuals registering under this new process are held to equivalent standards, to maintain excellence across the architectural profession whilst also ensuring the UK continues to benefit from the varied skills and experience international architects bring with them.”

In the consultation response, the Government confirmed that in addition to changes regarding architects’ CPD, and the recognition of international qualifications, further changes mean that ARB will also:

  • publicly list disciplinary orders against an architect on the register, to help increase public confidence; and
  • be able to introduce new charges to cover the cost of specific new responsibilities determined by the Government in future regulations.

ARB has published a summary of the Government’s decisions, what the changes mean for ARB, and what architects need to know at this early stage.

Further information on the Government’s policy changes and analysis of the consultation are available in MHCLG’s Government response to the consultation.